Friday, June 23, 2017

Fresh Local Strawberries

Local Fresh Strawberries
Today was the day!!!  Every year about the middle of June the local strawberries are ripe & ready for us to enjoy.  When visiting roadside stands or Farmer's Markets, quarts of these sweet yummy red berries are available to purchase.   It's been a tradition with me to purchase strawberries to prep for our large freezer & also to make Freezer Jam.  Oh, years ago the tradition was to go to the strawberry patch & pick the berries I needed.  Traditions change!  :)

This morning quarts of strawberries from Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow, MA found their way to my kitchen.  After cutting off the tops, the strawberries were double rinsed in cold water & drained.  Then, 2 and 1/2 cups of this fruit were placed in Ziploc Freezer Bags.  Some of the larger strawberries were sliced first.  I add about 1 Tablespoon of sugar to each bag before closing.  It works well to move the sugar crystals around in the bag, so it dissolves.  Label & date each bag. 

In the winter months a defrosted bag of this yummy fruit is such a treat to top a Belgian Waffle, Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes or ice cream.

Ready for the Freezer!
Strawberries are always a 2 day project with me.  Tomorrow, I'll be making Strawberry Freezer Jam.

Do you enjoy making jams when the local fruit is available in your area?

Enjoy!
Yummy!
   
  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Some Colors of May

Bright Pink Peonies!
Here are some of the beautiful colors of May!  We have been enjoying our flowering bushes this spring.  Now, the perennials are also bursting into color.

Lavender Chives!

These Chives always add a beautiful shade of lavender to our garden.

Bleeding Hearts
Years ago 4 small Bleeding Hearts were planted in our back garden.  Now, they've multiplied & found their spot around a large boulder.

Champagne Rhododendron
The white blossoms on the Champagne Rhododendron are dainty.

We are Enjoying Spring!
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

~Memorial Day~


Today
we remember & honor
the Men & Women 
who made the ultimate sacrifice 
for us!

Thank You!!! 




Sunday, May 28, 2017

*Blueberry Torte*

Blueberry Torte
(File Photo)
A Blueberry Torte is baking in my oven!  This dessert rates up there as one of our faves.  It's a treat that can be baked any time of the year.  When you have fresh blueberries or if you've defrosted blueberries.  For me- during the year it's when I've defrosted a bag that's in our large freezer.

It's an easy dessert!  Prepare the batter.  If the batter is too dry, I add 1- 2 Tablespoons more (Soy) Milk & continue mixing.  Place batter in a spring form pan.  Then add the fresh/ defrosted & drained blueberries & press lightly into batter.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon/ sugar mixture & bake.       

Before baking
(File Photo)




Before you know it this delicious dessert will be ready to serve!

Yum!
(File Photo)
  
 Click here for the Blueberry Torte Recipe.  It's so good with or without a small scoop of vanilla ice cream!  We do have vanilla ice cream!  :)

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Yummy Yogurt

Yummy Yogurt
Today was "time to make the yogurt"!  That seems to be every 10 days, give or take.  It's a habit I've had for... well... decades.  Today, the 2 Donvier Yogurt Makers were sitting on my kitchen counter making the next batch.  These electric yogurt makers did the work for 7 hours & 30 minutes.  Then, the individual 6 oz. containers were placed in the fridge.

Yogurt is very easy to prep!  I like the individual 6 oz. container yogurt makers.  Years ago I purchased two.  2 batches were just as easy as making a single batch. 

The process is easy!  The needed milk is boiled & then placed in a large bowl to cool to a required temperature.  My "temperature spoon" comes in handy here.  It came with the Donvier Yogurt Maker.  Then, a culture is added to the cooled milk & stirred.  Place milk in containers, snap on the lid & set the timer.



Complete directions here.
  
Yogurt is always enjoyed at lunch time here.  I like to add a little Freezer Jam & Crunchy Oats to this very tasty source of calcium!

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Crunchy Oats

Crunchy Oats
This was the week!  I've been planning on making a batch of Crunchy Oats for about a month, now.  Those tasty little additions of oats & wheat germ that pack a lot of flavor & fiber to my daily yogurt.  I like to sprinkle about 2 teaspoons on top of my plain yogurt & then add a little Freezer Jam.  Sometimes, you see this treat sold along with single serving yogurt containers.  It's easy to add them in & enjoy the yogurt.  It's even better when you make a batch to eat whenever you want.
  
This is an "easy to prep" kind of treat!  Place all the ingredients in a bowl & combine thoroughly.  Then, in a large skillet over Medium heat, cook & also *stir constantly Cook for 5- 6 Minutes.  Place on a large pan to cool.  It's that easy!  Crunchy Oats are stored in the fridge.  It's great to have a batch to enjoy!  They taste so good on top of cold cereal, too!

*Mixture will burn if it is not constantly stirred! 

Crunchy Oats
             adapted from The Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook


Ingredients:
1 & 1/4 Cups Quaker Oats (Old Fashioned)
1/3 Cup Wheat Germ
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/3 Cup Olive Oil for baking & sauteing 
1/3 Cup Honey

Method:
  1. Combine Oats & Wheat Germ in a bowl. 
  2. Add Cinnamon & Nutmeg, combine.
  3. Add Olive Oil & combine well.
  4. Then add Honey, again combine well.  Mixture is very sticky.
  5. Place mixture in large skillet.
  6. Over Medium Heat cook while constantly stirring.
  7. Cook for 5- 6 Minutes.
  8. Then place Crunchy Oats on cookie pan to cool.
  9. After cooling, place in air tight container & store in fridge. 
After placing in the air tight container, I shake the container to break up any large clumps.  They store well for 3 months in the fridge.  My container will be empty before 3 months passes.  :)  This is a great tasty add in!

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring!

View from our front window!
Our warm Spring weather has brought so much color to my town!  One cannot help but daydream while enjoying all of the flowering trees & bushes.

The Forsythia bushes are now part bright yellow flowers & part green leaves.  Flowering Crabapple trees add a beautiful pink color to our neighborhood.  While taking the daily walk the white Crabapple trees add to the beauty, too!


Ah, Spring in New England!
We are enjoying it!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

~Color Update~

Bright Yellow Forsythia Blossoms
What a beautiful time of year!  Whenever I glance out our kitchen window the bright yellow Forsythia blossoms get my attention!  Three bushes are in our back perennial garden.  It's so easy to admire these beautiful bushes all over my neighborhood, because many of us have them in our yards.  Last year, the Forsythia did not blossom, due to our warm, then freezing temps early in the year.  They sure were missed!  However, this year they are a welcoming Spring sight!

The "AmaZing surprises" that made their appearances in March have also brought color to our emerging garden!  A bright yellow Daffodil stands tall.  :)  

Sole Surviving Daffodil
Pink & yellow Hyacinth flowers are opening on the stalks!  It's a ritual that I enjoy seeing every year!  

Hyacinth Blossoms Opening
Before I know it, it will be time to plant the saved Zinnia & Marigold seeds!

What a great time of year!
Spring in New England!
Enjoy!
   

Thursday, April 6, 2017

~Flatbread Pizza~

BBQ Pork Tenderloin Flatbreads
with Roasted Asparagus
Spring!  Asparagus! Flatbread Pizza!  Oh yes!  What a great combination!

A couple of months ago my DH & I were looking at the menu in a New Jersey hotel dining room- famished.  I wanted to order something I'd never tasted.  That's something I always enjoy doing.  When I return home I like to prepare a new dish that's so tasty.  There on the menu was "Flatbread Pizza".  The description of the ingredients sounded so appetizing & I was so hungry!  Oh, it was so good!     

Three weeks ago, a grocery store in my area started carrying packaged flatbread for pizza.  O.K., that got my attention!  Now, I've prepared Flatbread Pizza twice in the past 3 weeks.  Forget Friday night pizza!

These are great!  They are so easy to prepare!  The Directions are on the package.  With the Flatbreads I use, they are placed on a baking sheet & baked for 2 minutes.  Add toppings & then return to the oven & bake again for 4- 5 Minutes. 

It's Asparagus time, so roasting Asparagus that's coated with Olive Oil for baking & sauteing & also Parmesan cheese is a great veggie when making these.  We like White Pizza, so a coating of Ricotta Cheese is a great base.    

With the first Flatbreads, BBQed Pork Tenderloin chunks, Roasted Asparagus & fresh Spinach were placed on a coating of Ricotta Cheese.  Top with shredded Mozzarella/ Cheddar! 

We enjoyed the taste of  Veggie Dream Flatbreads the second time.  Roasted Asparagus & Roasted Summer Squash along with fresh Spinach were placed on the Ricotta.

Veggie Dream Flatbread

Useful Hints
:

  • Before adding toppings, I spread a little Olive Oil for baking & sauteing on each baked Flatbread.  Then, add & spread Ricotta Cheese on top. 
  • For both varieties make a drizzle of 1 teaspoon Water with 4 teaspoons of BBQ SauceCombine & then drizzle over the top of each Flatbread just before sprinkling on the shredded Cheddar/ Mozzarella Cheese.  Bake.  This gives it a great tang!
Does your family enjoy these, too?

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

~Early Spring~

The snow that fell 2 weeks ago has melted.  The rain has now stopped.  Today the sun is shining, so it was time to check out the perennial gardens. 

AmaZing surprises!!!

In our front yard the lavender Crocuses in our lawn are enjoying the sunshine!

A Ritual of Spring!





A walk to our backyard brought more smiles!  The sole Daffodil in our back perennial garden already had a bud before the snowfall.  Yes, it's growing!

The sole Daffodil!

 Even the Hyacinths continue upward!

Flower buds growing larger!

The recent snowfall did not stop determined Spring!  Woohoo!
It's anticipated & totally Enjoyed!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread
It's March! Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day!  It's time to bake the Irish Soda Bread to enjoy this weekend!!!  This yummy bread is also called Spotted Dog.  Oh, it is so good!

Unsalted Butter, Raisins & Fat Free or Low Fat Buttermilk are 3 of the ingredients.  Enjoying a slice or two of this bread on St. Patrick's Day is a tradition in my family.  What a great bread!  If you have any extra slices, they can be frozen to enjoy another weekend.  There just may not be any extra slices.

Here's my history of me finding this recipe: 

I'll always remember the year I was "googling" for an Irish Soda Bread recipe that used 1 Cup of Buttermilk.  That's all I had in the fridge.  There was the recipe on the blog Charli and Me written by Carol.  Carol shared that this great recipe originally came from the Will O'Glenn Irish Bed and Breakfast in Michigan with Mrs. Biddy Gahan sharing it.  I'm always so happy that all of these kind folks passed it along!  I use unsalted & fat free/ low fat ingredients & it's so good!  Every year I bake this Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day & also a couple of other times during the year.

***My hints:
  • Melt & then cool the Butter before using.
  • Before placing the sticky dough in the pie plate, rub a little Butter on your hands.
  • Spray the pie plate with PAM. 

Ready to place in my oven!
Irish Soda Bread
Oven: 400°F, then lowered to 375°F.

Total baking time:  40- 45 Minutes

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 Cups Raisins
1 Cup Boiling Water
**********
1 stick unsalted Butter 
2 and 1/2 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
5 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Cup Buttermilk, can be Fat Free or Low Fat 
PAM

Method:  
  1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2.  Spray Pyrex pie plate with PAM.
  3.  In a small bowl combine Raisins & boiling water.  Let sit while preparing dough.
  4.  Melt butter.  Cool.
  5.  In large mixing bowl combine Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder & Sugar. 
  6.  Add melted Butter to dry ingredients.  Stir in.
  7.  Add Buttermilk. Stir.
  8.  Add drained Raisins.  Stir. 
  9.  Shape the dough into a ball after placing in the pie plate.  Dough is sticky.
  10.  Bake 15 Minutes at 400°F.
  11.  Then, lower oven temperature to 375°F.  Bake 25- 30 Minutes longer.
  12.  Remove bread from pie plate after using a cake tester or toothpick to test for "done".  
  13.  Cool on rack.
  14.  Wait at least 5 hours before cutting into slices.
  15.  Enjoy!
Heat half of a slice in the microwave for a few seconds.  What an extra special treat!  Warm or room temperature, this is just so good!

Enjoy!
Yummy!
 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!    

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!!

Today's the day
To say
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!!!

Two days ago I stopped into the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA.  I was on my way to the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum for a presentation, so I walked past the statues of Dr. Seuss & his friends.  The Lorax greets visitors as they walk onto the museum complex.

The Lorax
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield, MA.  He grew up in Springfield & later wrote so many books for children using the name Dr. Seuss.  Seuss was his mother's maiden name.  The sculptor Lark Grey Dimond- Cates, Theodor Seuss Geisel's step- daughter, designed these large detailed bronze statues.  The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 & Thing 2 & Horton the Elephant are just a few.

Horton & more Dr. Seuss Friends!
While writing his stories he used his native Springfield, MA for inspiration.  No, Ted Geisel did not live on Mulberry Street.  His dad was Superintendent of Parks in Springfield & Forest Park is located in the city.  Often the phrase "If I ran the zoo..." would be voiced by Springfield residents.  You will recognize the title of another great story of his- If I Ran the Zoo.  Indian Motorcycles were manufactured in the city, so they have a place in his stories, too.

Green Eggs and Ham is my favorite Dr. Seuss story!  What's your fave story???

Enjoy!
        

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ah Yes, Color!

Welcome Sight!
Red Amaryllis
In the middle of January I was ready to work with the Amaryllis!  It was the potted bulb 2 of my cute grandsons gave us.  The color was a mystery.  Mysteries are good!  It was also a mystery if  I would see any beautiful anticipated flowers.  A YouTube video was very helpful. 

O.K., the lid was carefully removed from the pot.  The bulb was watered- not too much.  The pot was rotated:  90°- 180° every time.  The ever growing stem with a "bud" was staked- gently with yarn.  Suddenly the "bud" began to open & small red buds appeared.  I was on my way to see brilliant red color in the winter!  Woo hoo!

The buds opened.  The Amaryllis is watered.  The pot is rotated.  What a gorgeous sight in February!

Pollen & me have issues, so I also removed the pollen sacs.  I am planning on enjoying these bright red flowers for as long as  can!

After it flowers (with some TLC), I've learned that the bulb can be replanted at a later date.  Oh yes, brilliant red flowers again!  This is so similar to my Marigold plant!  Seeds are saved every year & planted the following spring!      

Enjoying the Amaryllis!
               

Monday, February 20, 2017

Butternut Squash Raisin Muffins

~Butternut Squash Raisin Muffins~
We have a few packages of Butternut Squash in our freezer!  Ah, just a very few.  It's the veggie that we purchase in autumn from Meadowbrook Farm.  After bringing the bushel home the next step is to steam/ mash/ package/ label/ freeze it to enjoy during the other months of the year.  Yesterday, while we were enjoying this yummy orange colored veggie during dinner I decided to save out 1/2 of a cup.  I had Butternut Squash Muffins on my mind.  The yummy muffins that most people think about & enjoy in autumn.  Why wait for autumn in 2017?  These light muffins with Raisins are also  flavored with Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Cloves.  They taste so good any time of year & during the winter they are a great treat.

Looking outside, the snow in our yard has certainly melted!  Streets & sidewalks are clear.  That makes taking the daily walk outdoors so easy!  After returning from the walk, the Butternut Squash Raisin Muffins were soon baking in the oven!  Yum!         

Butternut Squash Raisin Muffins
Oven:  400°F
Time:  20- 22 Minutes
Yield:  12 Muffins

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves
2 Egg Whites (or 1 Whole Egg)
3/4 cup Soy Milk (can be 1%, 2% or Whole Milk)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil for baking & sauteing
1/2 cup Butternut Squash cooked & mashed 
1/4 cup Raisins

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line muffin pan with liners.
  3. Combine the first 7 dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir to mix.
  4. Separate Egg Whites & place in small bowl & beat with a fork. 
  5. Add Soy Milk & Olive Oil to small bowl. Combine.
  6. Add mashed Butternut Squash to liquid mixture, combine.
  7. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients.
  8. Add Raisins.
  9. Mix all ingredients together until moistened.  Batter may be lumpy.
  10. Fill muffin liners.
  11. Bake 20- 22 Minutes in 400°F oven until muffins are lightly browned on top.
  12. Remove muffins from pan immediately.
  13. Cool on racks.
After these muffins cooled for about 10 minutes, suddenly 1 was gone from the rack!  You guessed it.  My Hubby walked into the kitchen.  :)

Will you be baking a batch of these muffins?

Enjoy!
Yummy!
 
  

Monday, February 13, 2017

"The Marriage License"

"The Marriage License"
at the Norman Rockwell Museum
It's a nice little road trip from our home to the Norman Rockwell Museum that's located in Stockbridge, MA.  Traveling west on the Mass Pike (I90) brings us into the Berkshires (Berkshire County).  With each visit to this fave place it's great to learn a little more about a well known American artist & his beautiful works!

"The Marriage License" is another beautiful painting in the museum's collection!  This was the cover for The Saturday Evening Post on June 11, 1955.  An excited young couple is happily filling out the paperwork for their marriage license.  In contrast, the Town Clerk is patiently waiting, looking off into the distance preoccupied with his thoughts.  The room has dark wood & objects while the young woman's yellow dress & the light coming in from the window lets us look into this room more easily.

This work is a favorite with many married/ engaged couples.  Many have their photo taken in front of it during their anniversary month.  Like we did this past July on our anniversary!

An Anniversary Photo

Happy Valentine's Day!!!
Enjoy!
            

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Creamy Cheesy Pie

Creamy Cheesy Pie
(File Photo)
ready to slice & serve
My mother- in- law introduced me to Creamy Cheesy Pie.  It was decades ago when Jim & I visited his parents in Florida.  Two weeks before arriving, I had prepared a cheesecake that took 2 hours to prepare.  After making the pie crust shell, the filling was prepared.  Then, the cheesecake was baked.  It tasted so delicious, but it was so time consuming.

On this particular visit to the sunny state I was introduced to a very easy dessert.  After dinner one night, we all enjoyed our dessert- Creamy Cheesy Pie.  It was served with a little whipped cream on top.  Oh, it was so good!  My MIL told me it was a "cinch" to make.  She was not kidding!!!  One 2- serving box of vanilla cook & serve pudding was prepared & it was combined with 8 ounces of Cream Cheese.  Then, the mixture was poured into a pre-made graham cracker crust.  Into the fridge it went to cool.  O.K. , now that is easy!!!  It's not only easy, it tastes so good!!! 

No, I never went back to preparing that other Cheesecake again.  ;) 

This is a dessert I make "every so often".  Cheesecake has always been a favorite dessert of mine.  Polish Cheesecake, Carrot Cheesecake & Key Lime Cheesecake are quite hard to resist in my book.  This one is too!!!

A Few Hints:
  •  My family uses 1% Milk, so I add 1 Tablespoon powdered milk into pot before making pudding.
  • I use Jell-O brand pudding mix, because I do not burn the pot when I use the Jell-O brand.  :)

  • My son has prepared a delicious Chocolate Creamy Cheesy Pie using chocolate pudding mix.    

Creamy Cheesy Pie
 


Ingredients:
(1) pkg. 2 serving cook & serve Vanilla Pudding Mix
(1) pkg. 8 oz. Cream Cheese
(2) Cups Milk
(1) Pre-made Graham Cracker Pie Shell 

Method:  
  1. Prepare Pudding according to package directions. 
  2. Place Cream Cheese in a medium bowl.
  3. Pour hot cooked Pudding over Cream Cheese and whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into Graham Cracker crust.  Smooth mixture to crust edges.
  5. Cool about 30 minutes.  Then, cover with plastic wrap. 
  6. Refrigerate overnight.
  7. Cut into slices.  Add whipped cream on top.
  8. Place berries on the side.
  9. Refrigerate remaining pie to enjoy again.  Yum!
I will be making this dessert on Monday afternoon.  Topped with a little Strawberry Freezer Jam & then whipped cream. Oh yum!!!

Will you be making one, too?  Easy + delicious!!!

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

~Quick Glance~

~Today's View~
at Noontime
It's February 9th!  It is winter and the light snowflakes keep falling today!  Schools are closed for the day in the northeast & the snowplow has visited my neighborhood already this AM.  It will return! Yesterday, our thermometer reading was 51°F.  Today is a totally different story.  There is no taking a walk outside for me.  Our handy dandy treadmill will be used!

But, what a beautiful view from any window in our home!

Enjoy!